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Columns

  • People forget to remember

     “It’s a funny thing, war.  Never have so many suffered so much so so few could be so happy!”  (Frank Burns, idiot extraordinaire M.A.S.H).
     In the early 60s, America found itself entrenched in yet another war on whatever.  It was not waged to protect our shores or to protect democracy.  Vietnam was an exercise in political futility, doomed from the start to fail.
     And like President Johnson’s gall bladder surgery, Vietnam’s legacy left a scar on the belly of a nation that prided itself in “never losing a war”.
     But hey, it wasn’t really a war.  It was a “police action” -- that is, if you ignore the 58,209 Americans killed during the action.

  • Make your vacation security checklist

    With summer vacation right around the corner, you’re probably busy planning itineraries, shopping for new bathing suits and finishing up work projects. But before you completely check out, take a few minutes to review a few financial safeguards that could save you a ton of grief and money – and protect your identity.
    Credit and debit cards. If you’re planning to travel – especially overseas – follow these precautions:

  • A woman of mystery

    SANTA FE — Gov. Susana Martinez still is mostly a mystery to the state and national media. She doesn’t do many interviews and she doesn’t make many public appearances. The public appearances she does make usually are not publicized because she does not issue a schedule of her coming events as most other governors have done.
    Former Gov. Bill Richardson had some pretty mysterious cronies but he was not mysterious himself. Not long after he was elected to Congress, he pulled me aside at one of the frequent media gatherings he hosted and told me he was concerned about someone on his staff feeding me inside information about his thoughts and plans.

  • Heinrich rattles Dems

    Just two weeks before New Mexico Democratic voters would decide whether 1st Dist. Congressman Martin Heinrich or state Auditor Hector Balderas should be their U.S. Senate nominee this fall, Heinrich bucked his party in Congress by voting for a Republican-sponsored defense authorization bill a majority of congressional Democrats opposed and President Obama threatens to veto.
    The measure passed easily in the Republican dominated House, 299-120.
    It’s an odd piece of work, this bill, if only because it subverts that infamous deal forged last summer when the president and Congress pledged hefty cuts in both domestic and defense spending in return for an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

  • Legislative review a mixed bag

    What government does not do can be more interesting than the actions of government, or any organization, for that matter. This year, an election year with some “new money” having appeared for legislators eager to please, the incentive to do something was greater than usual.
    This week’s column offers things done and, mostly, things not done by in the 2012 legislative session. The source is the annual “Highlights” publication of the Legislative Council Service (LCS), the staff for the Legislature.

  • Inadequate information plagues schools

    Higher education has been a hot topic both nationally and in New Mexico recently. Congress has been haggling over the interest rates charged on federal student loans while economists question the economic impact of deeply-indebted college graduates. Here in New Mexico, UNM faculty complains that their salaries are not competitive with other, similar schools.
    Unfortunately, decisions are being made and policy reforms are being discussed based on inadequate information. Sometimes, this lack of information seems to result from a strategic plan to make it more difficult for the public and policymakers to make sound decisions.

  • Primaries tough on all

    New Mexico’s primary election is among the last scheduled in the nation.
    On June 5, we will be joined by California, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota in holding what is described as a “consolidated” presidential and state primary.  North Dakota will hold Democratic caucuses on the same day. The only primary after that will be Utah on June 26.  This is according to the calendar provided by the National Council of State Legislatures.
    If you are a Republican and wanted to have your say in the selection of a presidential nominee, you’re out of luck. Personally, I am relieved that New Mexico bypassed the nastiness that occurred in other states. The advertising battles will be awful enough in the fall.

  • State will have new look

    SANTA FE —The 2012 election will produce many new faces for New Mexicans. Half our senatorial delegation will change, along with at least a third of our House members.
    Obviously that’s not a lot of faces and some of them we have seen elsewhere. But New Mexicans are not accustomed to changing their congressional delegation very often. It is one reason our state receives much more than its share of federal money.  
    New Mexico currently is going through a transition caused by the retirements of two senators with a combined 66 years in Congress. Starting over won’t be fun but we enjoyed a long ride on the gravy train of federal projects.

  • Visiting with elected officials is not lobbying

    In defense of lobbyists, almost all of them anyway, I respond to a story at NMpolitics.net about the Republican candidates in the new state Senate District 7, which includes Clovis on the south and all of Union County to the north.
    One candidate, Angie Spears, is backed by Gov. Susana Martinez. The other, Pat Woods, has given money to—gasp—Democrats and has made some bumbling comments linking the money and “lobbying.” Woods has his own endorsements, including that of former long-time state Rep. Hoyt Pattison.
    In the story, Heath Haussamen of NMpolitics.net says, “Pat Woods’ statements about campaign contributions and lobbying raise ethical questions about his prior activities in Santa Fe.”

  • Prepare your kids for summer job expenses

    High school and college students hoping to find temporary jobs may be in for a tough time this summer – once again – as they compete with older, more experienced workers in a still-struggling economy. But if your kid is fortunate enough to find work, there are a few things he or she – and you – should know about the economic and tax ramifications of temporary employment:
    Payroll deductions. If this is their first job, warn your kids about common payroll deductions that can take a big bite out of take-home pay. Common culprits include state and federal income taxes, Social Security and Medicare (FICA), health and unemployment insurance, uniforms and union dues.